Abu Dhabi to build 'world's largest' solar plant

June 9, 2010 by W.G. Dunlop
A solar thermal electric power plant in Sanlucar La Mayor in 2008. French oil firm Total and Spain's Abengoa Solar are to partner with Abu Dhabi's alternative energy company Masdar to build "the world's largest" concentrated solar power plant, Masdar has announced.

French oil firm Total and Spain's Abengoa Solar will partner with Abu Dhabi's alternative energy company Masdar to build "the world's largest" concentrated solar power plant, Masdar announced on Wednesday.

The state-owned firm said it has selected a "consortium of Total and Abengoa Solar as a partner to own, build and operate Shams 1, the world's largest concentrated and the first of its kind in the Middle East."

"We are moving on the right path to make Abu Dhabi the main source and the international capital of renewable energy and sustainable development," Masdar CEO Sultan al-Jaber told a news conference in the oil-rich emirate.

The plant "will offset 170 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide annually."

Construction of the plant, which will cover an area of 2.5 square kilometres (1 square mile) and have a 100 megawatt capacity, will begin in the third quarter of 2010 and be completed in approximately two years, Masdar said.

"We expect the cost of this project to be around 600 million dollars (504.2 million euros)," project manager Mohammed al-Zaabi said.

Masdar will hold a 60 percent stake in the project, while Total and Abengoa Solar will each have 20 percent.

"Shams (Arabic for sun) is the first major step for Abu Dhabi to achieve its seven percent target" for renewable energy use by 2020, Zaabi said. "It will be followed by the next projects, Shams Two and Three."

Power demand in Abu Dhabi peaks during the day due to air conditioner use, Zaabi said, making ideal, as sunlight is strongest at the same time.

"This is the first time in the where we can provide significant (power) capacity that does not rely on fossil fuel," said Nicholas Carter, head of the Abu Dhabi Regulation and Supervision Bureau, which regulates the water and electricity sectors.

Concentrated solar power (CSP) plants use mirrors to heat liquid -- a type of oil, in the case of Shams 1 -- to then heat water to run a steam generator and produce electricity, Zaabi said.

Abengoa Solar CEO Santiago Seage said that, compared to other types of solar power plants, "the main advantage of CSP is the fact that it is less intermittent."

"You have a solar field ... but you also have a boiler where you use natural gas to create the steam if the solar resource is not enough," he said.

Abengoa Solar has already constructed four CSP plants in Spain, and is building others in Spain, north Africa and the United States, Seage said.

The plant will be located in Madinat Zayed, about 120 kilometres (75 miles) southwest of .

Explore further: Zero carbon, zero waste city being built in Abu Dhabi (w/ Video)

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5 / 5 (3) Jun 09, 2010
this is what america should be doing with our oil dollars. instead, we will drink and eat poison.
not rated yet Jun 09, 2010
Wait, a French OIL firm is funding this? AND it's even named Shams 1??? Hahaha...
3.3 / 5 (3) Jun 09, 2010
Function: noun
Etymology: perhaps from English dial. sham shame, alteration of English shame
Date: 1677

1 : a trick that deludes : hoax
2 : cheap falseness : hypocrisy
3 : an ornamental covering for a pillow
4 : an imitation or counterfeit purporting to be genuine
5 : a person who shams
not rated yet Jun 09, 2010
At 100MW, this will be far cry from the world's concentrated solar power plant. I can immediately think of two projects right here in California:


I'm sure there are others.
5 / 5 (1) Jun 09, 2010
this is what america should be doing with our oil dollars. instead, we will drink and eat poison.

Its not a matter if oner thing or the other. We are currently in the position of relying on oil because of decisions from decades of inept politicians and short range thinking. We must dedicate all possible resources to solar and other non-oil energy sources for a long time before they will become anything significant. Meanwhile, most of the conservative political forces in our country will dedicate all of THEIR resources to thwart those efforts and destroy the far seeing politicians that support them. So we make progress... slowly.
4 / 5 (2) Jun 09, 2010
Well this seems like a better use of money than building islands out of sand and building houses on them.
Its to bad they don't use more efficient means of cooling besides Electric wasting AC units.
Why don't they use in ground air heat exchanges like they are doing in Germany?
Dogs have been using this technology for a long time. Heck I have even seen cows digging holes to lay in on a hot day.
Why can't Humans?
5 / 5 (1) Jun 10, 2010
Why don't they use in ground air heat exchanges like they are doing in Germany?

Because you need water for ground based cooling which is at a premium in the desert
not rated yet Jun 10, 2010
Actually this is not what America should be doing -- look at the costs

$600 Million -- for a plant that is 1 square mile and produces 100 MW this is a gross waste of money ... and consider that this is an emerite so they were seeded the land for free... it proves nothing but that Abu Dahbi is investing in the wrong type of solar plant.
not rated yet Jun 10, 2010
If you calculate in all the waste disposal, guarding of waste disposal facilities for 10000 years then solar is way cheaper than nuclear. If you factor in all the ecological ramifications it is even cheaper than coal/oil powerplants.

Simply building the stuff is not all the cost there is to a power plant.

And when you factor in that any other type of poer plant makes you dependent onthe suppliers of your primary energy carrier... well, then solar makes a LOT of sense. (remember the oil crisis of 1973?)
not rated yet Jun 13, 2010
I'm sorry, but those 2.5 sq km of solar panels will not be lasting for 10000 years and will need to be disposed of themselves. They will also produce significantly less energy than any conventional power plant will over their lifetime.

Also 100MW capacity doesn't mean it's producing 100MW all the time. It's the maximum amount of power that can be produced under ideal conditions with all panels functioning properly. It will never actually be producing 100MW.

Solar power makes some sense when used locally to offset power consumption from the grid if you can afford it, but it is too inconsistent and inefficient right now to be used as the public's primary source of electricity.
not rated yet Jun 14, 2010
I'm sorry, but those 2.5 sq km of solar panels will not be lasting for 10000 years and will need to be disposed of themselves.

But you won't be needing to guard the disposal site nor will you have to be afraid that the stuff leaks into your ground water. You can just dump it (or, for the most part, smelter it and get the resources back to make new cells)

Solar power does need to be coupled with the ability to store excess production. But all that is being solved (e.g. look at how Andasol does it. It's a solar power plant that has power output 24/7)
1 / 5 (1) Jul 13, 2010
Seems that Abu Dhabi is working hard to figure out how to squander their billions in bail out money. They haven't learned a thing, have they? How is it that in most cases, the people that run head long into renewables are closest to bankruptcy? Mere coincidence? I guess the first to be drowning in red ink get to be the ones spending other people's money.

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